Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Green Dragon Project – A Splendid Homebrewer Collaboration

My hat is off to the Oregon Brew Crew (OBC), a forward-thinking homebrew club up in Portland, OR. The OBC, in association with the Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub, collaborated and created the Green Dragon Project, which allows the brewpub and the club to brew beer together. If you’re a member of a homebrew club, take notes and ask yourself 'what's to stop my club from doing something similar?'.

The Green Dragon Project is a joint venture in operation since 2009 between a brewpub (Green Dragon Bistro) and a homebrew club (OBC), where members of the homebrew club get a chance to brew “personal recipes for public consumption”. Using the brewpub’s 1 barrel system, the club chooses, sources, and brews their own unique beers that are sold commercially on tap at the Green Dragon. The goal of the project is further improve the relationship between commercial craft brewers, their customers, and the homebrewing community.

The story of the first collaborative Green Dragon Project beer can be found here.

A committee from the homebrew club (aptly named the Green Dragon Project Committee) is tasked with organizing OBC's participation and brewing at the Bistro two or three times a month.  What restrictions or limitations the Bistro places on the OBC is unclear, but the beer obviously must be commercially viable. There are likely practical considerations (such as fermenter space, available grain and hop contracts, etc.) that must be considered. Working within these boundaries must provide the OBC homebrewers with a unique perspective on what decisions face commercial brewers at small scales. Regardless, the committee is responsible for selecting who amongst the club’s membership gets to brew and with what recipe, as well as procuring the required ingredients.

I have not been able to find out any information about the financial arrangement of the collaboration (who’s pays for ingredients, how revenue from the Project’s beers are divided up, etc.), but it is clear to me that this collaboration truly represents how homebrewers and professional brewers can interact and be successful at it.  It makes sense creatively, as the Bistro gaining access to a wealth of recipe concepts from OBC.  As for OBC, what homebrewer wouldn't want to see the beer they designed flowing out taps at a commercial establishment.  If OBC can make it happen, what’s to stop other homebrew clubs from doing the same in their own communities?

Of particular note, the Green Dragon Project made the local Oregon news recently when Rogue Ales donated $5,000 to OBC in recognition for growing the Green Dragon’s 1 bbl brewery into Oregon’s 94th largest brewery. Kudos to both OBC and Rogue.



“People who don’t drink are afraid of revealing themselves”
-Humphrey Bogart

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